Forestry News

As a VFA member, you're kept up to date with forestry news through our e-newsletter What's Happening in Virginia Forestry Today.  See our most recent issue below:

VFA banner

   What's Happening in Virginia Forestry Today?

June 15, 2018

Sponsored By:  

Three Rivers Forestry, LLC

 Are you having issues with your land, but are not quite sure what to do about it?  Contact Three Rivers Forestry, LLC today for all of your consulting forester needs. 

In This Issue...

VFA Happenings

Catching up with VFA Programs

Government Relations


State Happenings

Virginia's 2018-2020 Biennial Budget Supports Forestry

The Spotted Lanternfly is Here

Virginia's Budget Includes $350 Million for Norfolk's Port-deepening Project

31 New Jobs to Open in the City of Covington

Governor Northam Engages Local Communities in Chesapeake Bay Restoration


National Happenings

Results are in from the American Tree Farm Survey

China Log Exports Update

Waters Advocacy Coalition Issues Statement on WOTUS Rule

2018 Farm Bill Update


Sidebar Items

Sponsor an issue of What's Happening...

VFA Membership Benefits

Contribute to the Virginia Forest Resources PAC Online

GenerationNext Workshop

 sponsor e-news

Looking for a way to promote your company/organization while supporting your association? Have a special story you'd like to share with other VFA members? You can do so here! Choose between a feature article or a simple advertisement. Your logo and additional information will appear here. See our Support Us page for additional information.

VFA Membership Benefits

VFA Members receive discounts from the following organizations:

The codes needed to receive these discounts can be accessed by logging into your member profile or by contacting the VFA office. 

Contribute to the Virginia Forest Resources PAC Online

Influencing public policy is a tough assignment, especially when it comes to our forests. The Virginia Forest Resources Political Action Committee (VaForest PAC) provides a means to educate our policy makers on the importance of forestry to Virginia and gives financial assistance to candidates who recognize and support forestry interests.  You can now contribute to the PAC online by clicking here.

GenerationNext Workshops

generation next workshop

Are you prepared to pass the environmental and heirloom values rooted in your forest to the next generation? Researching and planning ahead can ensure that your wishes are met while minimizing the financial costs and emotional challenges.  Join us to learn how to secure your woodland legacy. This summer we are offering 4 half-day mini-workshops, and 2 two-day in-depth workshops on this important topic.  Choose the length and location that suits your schedule. Click here for more information. 


  • We are giving the name of our e-news a makeover and are asking for YOUR help!  Please contact Elizabeth Buhl at with any comments or suggestions. Also, please look forward to receiving our newsletter twice a month from now on, on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. 
  • Our Executive Committee met last month to set up a work plan for the new year filled with initiatives set forth by the strategic plan. This year, VFA's Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, and various task forces are working on the following:  defining and developing partnership opportunities, creating policy statements, planning and implementing membership events, rolling out a re-branded communications plan, hosting a legislative event during General Assembly, enhancing VFA revenue, implementing a land use task force, and incorporating innovative themes and setups into the 2019 Virginia Forestry Summit. If you would like to support VFA in any of these initiatives, please let us know!

Catching Up with VFA Programs

  • The Virginia SFI Implementation Committee met on June 13, in Charlottesville. In addition to usual business, the Committee discussed future outreach opportunities in collaboration with Project Learning Tree. They also learned about the TEAM Safe Trucking program, thanks to Jimmie Locklear with Forestry Mutual Insurance.

Government Relations

  • Executive Director Paul Russell Howe attended portions of the Annual Meeting of Southern Group of State Foresters, hosted at various locations throughout Richmond, including the Omni Richmond Hotel and WestRock. Pictured below, on top, are Paul and his wife Karen with State Forester and VFA member Rob Farrell. The bottom picture is of Secretary Bettina Ring and VFA Past President and member Easton Loving at WestRock's Richmond location during the meeting. 

Paul, Karen, and Rob at SGSF Annual Meeting


Easton and Bettina at SGSF Meeting

  • Paul joined the Enviva Bottomland Hardwood Task Force in Wilmington, North Carolina, as they reviewed the BLHW Taskforce accomplishments, discussed Enviva's sourcing policies, and brainstormed on future collaboration efforts. Pictured below is Paul and members of the Task Force floating down North Carolina's Black River on the final day of the meeting, experiencing one of the oldest forest ecosystems on the east coast. 

Bottomland Hardwoods Taskforce

  •  Leaders of the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), along with host representatives from Enviva, met with Executive Director Paul Russell Howe and Programs Coordinator Sarah Kammer at the VFA office on May 31. The group included Carsten Huljus, CEO of SBP. Paul and Sarah fielded questions about the importance of the forest products industry in Virginia, the state's forestry laws, the history of timber harvesting, land-use change in the Commonwealth, landowner outreach and education, and logger training. 


Virginia's 2018-2020 Biennial Budget Supports Forestry

On June 7, Governor Ralph Northam signed two bills funding state government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 and all of Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020, including several forestry initiatives important to the forestry community. Forestry measures included in the final budget are the following: 
  • An additional $112,000 annually for the Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) Program as administered by the Department of Forestry (DOF), matching industry’s full anticipated contribution to the Forest Products Tax. Senator Frank Ruff and Delegate Charles Poindexter led the charge for these additional funds not in the original budget prepared by the Administration. RT provides cost share assistance dollars to forest landowner to encourage and assist with replanting or reforesting.  
  • $236,000 for a one-year appropriation to jump-start production of containerized longleaf and loblolly pine seedlings at DOF’s Garland Gray Forestry Center nursery. This was in the proposed budget, supported by the House, but not in the Senate's original version.
  • Funding of $107,500 for adequate staffing in the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, also in the original Governor's budget but initially eliminated in the Senate.
  • $100,000 of pass through funding to support the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute (VNRLI). 
 The big picture item in the budget, subject to much debate and General Assembly political and process wrangling, is the expansion of Medicaid to increase health care access. The budget also adds considerably to the state's Rainy Day Fund and the new Revenue Reserve Fund, while making significant investments in core economic priorities like education, workforce training, mental health services, and pay raises for teachers as well as state and state-supported local employees, including law enforcement professionals. Governor Northam signed the two budget bills without amendment or veto.

Governor Northam declared, “As a doctor and a public servant, I believe making sure all Virginians have the access to the care they need to be healthy and productive is both a moral and economic imperative. This budget will empower nearly 400,000 Virginians with access to health insurance by expanding Medicaid, without crowding out other general fund spending priorities. We showed Virginians and the world that chaos and partisan warfare may dominate Washington, but here in Richmond we still work together to do the right thing for our people, not our political party. We can get a lot done if we continue to work together in good faith, with our goal always being to do what’s best for Virginia. We still have important work left to do and I look forward to more big accomplishments that will improve the lives of all Virginians.”

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) stated, “I am glad to see Governor Northam signed the budget bills as passed by the House and Senate without amendments. When we started the budget discussions, I said reforms to the current Medicaid system were vital to any potential agreement. I am pleased those were included in the final budget bill. Most importantly, we are already seeing the positive effects of the budget. Moody’s reaffirmed our AAA bond rating and stable financial outlook. Moody’s also praised our healthcare plan, saying it will leave Virginia “less exposed to potential future cutbacks in federal Medicaid spending" than most other states. I appreciate the hard work that was put into crafting this budget. As we look forward to the 2019 General Assembly Session I look forward to finding ways that we can work across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation that will better the lives of the people we serve.”

The Spotted Lanternfly is Here

The spotted lanternfly is an invasive insect that has damaged agriculture crops in the Northeast United States and has now been spotted in Virginia. The insect leaves a black, sticky residue on homeowners' trees that smells of sour vinegar. Experts are worried that the spotted lanternfly could be more invasive than the 17-year cicadas, covering homeowners' trees in mass quantities. The insect prefers to feast on the Tree of Heaven, but will also attack apple trees, pear trees, grapes, hops, and other valuable crops. For more information please visit Virginia Tech's website and see how they are tracking the insect's movement. 

invasive spotted lanternfly

Virginia's Budget Includes $350 Million for Norfolk's Port-deepening Project

The state budget recently signed by Governor Ralph Northam includes $350 million to begin a major dredging project in the shipping channel, changing the depth from 50 to 55 feet and widening the channels up to 1,400 feet. The project is headed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. VFA assisted in the effort to obtain budget funds for the port, and has provided letters of support to the Corps. Forest products are a major export commodity for Virginia. Please read this article for more information on this project. 

31 New Jobs to Open in the City of Covington

Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that SchaeferRolls, Inc., a producer of polymer-based roll covers will invest $12 million to establish a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing operation in the City of Covington. The company will be the local supplier to WestRock's Covington plant. Virginia successfully competed against South Carolina for the project. Please read the official press release for more information on this story. 

Governor Northam Engages Local Communities in Chesapeake Bay Restoration

Governor Northam recently began a new phase of Virginia's efforts in restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries and is preparing a third phase of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). This plan will ensure that pollution control measures are put in place by 2025. VFA is currently monitoring WIP development, particularly in how it is impacting forestry. For more information on what this new project means for Virginia's waters, please read the official press release


Results are in from the American Tree Farm Survey

In February 2018, American Forest Foundation conducted an online survey amongst Tree Farm volunteers and Tree Farmers to see how they can improve the program.  Out of 675 Tree Farm volunteers and 1,348 Tree Farmers, here are some results of note:  

  • 24% of Tree Farmers rated the services provided by Tree Farm as "very valuable," with 46% saying they are "somewhat valuable." Overall, Tree Farmers' ratings averaged 3.0 on a 4-point scale with a scale-value mark of "quite valuable."
  • 86% of Tree Farmers said they would recommend Tree Farm to friends and family members who are also woodland owners.
  • 60% of Tree Farm volunteers said that the program is a good leader when it comes to working with other forestry organizations in their state and 83% said it is a good partner in collaborative work. 
  • Tree Farmers are highly invested in being good stewards of their land. 88% of Tree Farmers said they want to do as much as they can to make their woods more healthy and productive. 92% said it is important for them to actively manage their land to achieve their goals. 88% said it is important for them to become more knowledgeable about good stewardship and woodland management. 76% said it is important to them to leave their land to their children or other heirs. 

China Log Exports Update

For about fifteen years log importers in China have instructed U.S. exporters to ship logs from the U.S. to Hong Kong, gaining a Hong Kong phytosanitary certification for delivery to mainland China. These certificates have been accepted by the Chinese Government and insisted upon by Chinese importers. On April 27, the Government of China announced a change in enforcement regarding the Hong Kong phytosanitary certificate. According to the U.S. Forest Products Trade Coalition, this enforcement action is problematic for the following three reasons:

  • The announced enforcement change was disruptive to trade, immediately affecting cargoes that were en route at the time of the announcement. 
  • The enforcement announcement was not transparent, and the industry was not given time to react to the sudden change.
  • The enforcement announcement was made arbitrarily with no triggering incidences of pests, infestation, or other phytosanitary problems. 

In response to the above changes, the Coalition urgently requested the following:

  • To delay to effective date of this enforcement change to July 15, in order to allow sufficient time for logs that are presently en route to be cleared through the value chain. 
  • The immediate identification and certification of Chinese legal fumigation facilities in the receiving ports. 
  • Find a fumigant to replace methyl bromide, with final and permanent rules being implemented no later than January 1, 2019. 

According to USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) staff, thousands of U.S. containers await inspection at or near ports in China. VFA worked to facilitate involvement by Virginia businesses impacted and to seek assistance from Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. She has since worked for a solution while on a trade trip to China. 

Please click here to read a letter of concern sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue from Representative Tom Garrett and other congressmen about this issue. 

Waters Advocacy Coalition Issues Statement on WOTUS Rule
The Waters Advocacy Coalition released the following statement in response to the preliminary injunction against the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule issued by the U.S. District Court in Brunswick, Georgia: 
"Today's court ruling is validation for the thousands of farmers, ranchers, and small business owners across the country who have been speaking out against the 2015 WOTUS rule as too broad, confusing, and crippling to their livelihoods," said Waters Advocacy Coalition spokeswoman Stephanie Genco. "Americans deserve a common-sense WOTUS rule that doesn't require a team of lawyers and consultants to navigate a maze of federal regulations before building on their own property or plowing a field on their farms. While the 2015 Rule is now stayed in 24 states all together, the other half of the country is still in limbo. That is why the Waters Advocacy Coalition will continue to call on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the unlawful 2015 rule and release a revised definition of Waters of the United States that affirms the intent of Congress under the Clean Water Act and provides a regulatory structure that supports both clean water and clear rules."
The Waters Advocacy Coalition represents a cross-section of farmers, ranchers, small business owners and industries who are seeking a revised Waters of the United States rule, an effort which VFA supports.

2018 Farm Bill Update

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has released its draft of the 2018 Farm Bill. While there are some great policies in the bill, there are also some areas for improvement. VFA co-signed this letter on June 13 to the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee as part of the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition, urging support for important forestry programs to be included in the Farm Bill. Listed below are the major areas of importance for the forestry industry.

  • The Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding is reduced by roughly $300M from current funding levels.  Unfortunately, the Committee chose to fund some of the other conservation programs with cuts to EQIP.
  • Similarly, the bill reduces the number of acres that can be enrolled in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to just under 8.8M acres, from current level of 10M acres annually.
  • The bill includes the full Timber Innovation Act, legislation that the American Forest Foundation (AFF) has been advocating to support markets for wood.
  • AFF’s long-sought legislative fix to the EPA’s discriminatory procurement policy against wood was included. Under this language, all ATFS and SFI wood would be acceptable for purchase by the federal government.
  • The bill includes some of the landscape-scale restoration bill introduced by Senators Daines and Klobuchar (S. 962) that enables more work across ownership boundaries, AFF is working to include the full text.
  • The bill doesn’t expand and strengthen funding for the Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP), as we’ve been advocating for, to open up new market opportunities for wood.
  • The bill does expand the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), an important tool to help landowners conserve at-risk wildlife habitat, but doesn’t adjust the funding levels as we requested.
  • The bill also puts into law a broadly supported program that AFF has advocated for, Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), which also supports voluntary conservation of at-risk wildlife habitat and provides regulatory certainty to landowners who conserve such habitat.


Photo Courtesy of Virginia Department of Forestry. 

For more information on forestry news or other legislative items, and if you have any questions about VFA's representation of forestry interests at the General Assembly, please contact Executive Director Paul Russell Howe.

Twitter_logo_blue 2 image001 image004

 Virginia Forestry Association

vfa logo

3808 Augusta Ave.

Richmond, VA 23230